April 10th, 2012
12:34 PM ET

Marlins suspend manager Guillen for 5 games; he apologizes for Castro comments

The Miami Marlins suspended manager Ozzie Guillen for five games, effective immediately, on Tuesday, just before Guillen apologized for recent comments praising Cuba's Fidel Castro.

Guillen sparked a firestorm when he told Time magazine recently that he respected  Castro for being able to lead Cuba for six decades.

"I respect Fidel Castro," Guillen said in the article. "You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that son of a bitch is still there."

Guillen apologized during a press conference Tuesday, first speaking in Spanish, saying that he had "betrayed a Latin community" and that he was speaking to "ask for forgiveness with my heart in my hand."

But, he said, he originally spoke of Castro in Spanish and "the translation to English was a bit confusing."

In response to questions in English on Tuesday, Guillen said he was "very stupid" to make comments outside of baseball.

"Politics has nothing to do with sports," Guillen said.

"This is the biggest mistake so far in my life," he said.

Guillen said with the comments he'd let down the community.

"I'm very, very, very sorry," he said. "I will do everything in my power to make it better."

"I live in Miami, my family is in Miami," he said. "I will do everything in my power ... to help this community like I always do."

"I'm sitting here very embarrassed and very sad," he said at the press conference.

"I'm gonna be a Miami guy for the rest of my life," Guillen said. "I want to walk in the street with my head up and not feel as bad as I feel right now."

Guillen pledged to follow through on his promises to help out in Miami's Latin and Cuban communities.

"I'm going to be behind them 100%," he said.

He said he wanted to be with the team, which plays in Philadelphia again on Wednesday, but would not fight the suspension.

"I cannot complain about anything because I am not in a position to complain about anything they want to do with me," he said.

Guillen said he showed poor judgement, but not lack of intelligence, with the original Castro comments.

"You don't have this job if you're dumb," he said. "If I don't learn from this, I will call myself dumb."

The team said Tuesday the original comments were hurtful.

"The pain and suffering caused by Fidel Castro cannot be minimized in a community filled with victims of the dictatorship," the team said in a statement before Guillen's press conference.

Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said the suspension of Guillen was appropriate.

"I expect those who represent Major League Baseball to act with the kind of respect and sensitivity that the game’s many cultures deserve.  Mr. Guillen’s remarks, which were offensive to an important part of the Miami community and others throughout the world, have no place in our game," Selig said in a statement.

Guillen earlier in the week said he had apologized to Cuban-Americans in the Marlins organization, including Spanish-language broadcasters Felo Ramirez and Yiki Quintana, as well as Cuban-born Phillies pitcher Jose Contreras, ESPN reported.

The Marlins released a statement saying there was nothing to respect about Castro, "a brutal dictator who has caused unthinkable pain for more than 50 years. We live in a community filled with victims of this dictatorship, and the people in Cuba continue to suffer today."

Guillen backtracked on Sunday and apologized to anyone he offended with the Castro remark, telling the Palm Beach Post that he is "against everything, 100%," regarding Castro's reign in Cuba.

Elaborating on his use of the term, "respect," he said, "I respect (President) Obama, I respect (Venezuelan President Hugo) Chavez because I always respect people."
Perhaps lost in the controversy were Guillen's remarks late last week that for a quarter century or more he has gotten drunk and gone to sleep after every game.

"I've got my routine. Game's over, stay in the lobby of the hotel, the hotel bar, get drunk and go to sleep," he told the Palm Beach Post.

"I get drunk because I'm happy because we won or get drunk because I'm very sad and disturbed because we lose. Same routine for 25, 28 years. It hasn't changed. I don't like to go out."

Guillen was named the Marlins manager on September 28. He previously managed the Chicago White Sox for eight years, including leading them to the 2005 World Series title.

He is a native of Venezuela and became a U.S. citizen in 2006.

soundoff (2,195 Responses)
  1. eryx

    what a joke

    April 10, 2012 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
  2. Jiovanni

    Respecting a person is our human nature, just because many people were trained to hate his leadership, it doesn't take away what he did for Cuba. It is a long story but the bottom line is he has been a good leader, he cleaned the mafia out of Cuba and took from the abusive whealthy to share with everyone, "this will be the US future anyway". Russia, China and others are communists and the US embrazed them, even 80% of our products comes from China, so why hate Castro and Cuba. POLITICS

    April 10, 2012 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
  3. cacique

    He said it loud and clear the first time, only censorship and convenience can make him change his words not to hurt the sacred ears of the Cuban Miami mafia. But if they are making guillen apologize he did.. so, play ball!!

    April 10, 2012 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
  4. balls

    when someone says something we agree with and gets fired – it is against free speech. When someone says something we disagree with and gets suspended – it is a fair punishment. welcome to the twisted views of stupid Americans.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
  5. tony

    He forgot about FL's "stand your Ground" Law. Oh wait a minute, that's only for Republicans.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
  6. Kansas

    You can say whatever you want. The question is not can he, but should he?

    April 10, 2012 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
    • tony

      But he wasn't talking about his employer. Are they going to ask which way he votes next? And fire him if it's the "wrong" way?

      April 10, 2012 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
  7. Tino

    This is how I love to be Canadian and live in Canada, the most free nation on Earth! we can travel where ever we want, we can say what ever we want, I feel sorry for our friends south of the boarder who have no freedom to express their views! who cares if Castro is still alive? I can say I agree with Castro and do not lose my Job!! Viva Canada!! Viva Fidel Castro!!!!

    April 10, 2012 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
  8. pritka

    I cannot believe that being politically correct can affect this man's career. He was just admiring the fact that Castro has survived. I am no fan of Castro and I don't believe this man is either but Castro HAS survived and is still beloved by many Cubans. So be it, it is their choice and I have to believe Castro was doing something right to continue to have the loyalty of his people. I don't want to live there, I don't admire communism but just because I am an American who loves my country does not mean I cannot see that other countries and peoples have different ideas and wants/needs that they feel better served by a different way.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
  9. GauisCaesar

    Who cares? If the guy is from Cuba or has family in Cuba, why should we care that he bad-mouthed that leader...he lives in America! We know which country he wants to live in...because he lives here! Gosh, so crazy! The news should be the ridiculous people that suspended the guy. So, now he has to lie about how he feels? So, we make liars out of people because we are so sensitive...meanwhile we have Rush Limbaugh and Bill Mahr that get passes for completely insulting people. America is certainly broken! We've let "politically correctness" (no pun intended for Mahr) go to our heads.....this only breeds closet haters that come out in full force when something blows up. This is not the America I want!

    April 10, 2012 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
  10. nojusticed

    Free speech is not given, it is fought for, if we are going to allow this to happen, just like with the patroit act, then we do not deserve these rights.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
  11. DrCarrington

    I realize pro sports teams are not democracies
    but this is just another example of how we're becoming a nation ruled by fear.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  12. Ohsolost

    Unfortunately, Free Speech does not pertain within an employer-employee relationship. That being said, the Marlins are pretty stupid to try and mussel the guy since they are so public! Just goes to show, the front office ain't real bright! They might win a few loyalist (you know the moron's that cling to the hope of returning to Cuba), but I suspect the rest of Miami is as disgusted with the Marlins as should be the rest of the country. Let the guy speak his mind. If you don't agree with it, speak your mind. Fact of the matter is that he is probably right but no one wants to admit it.
    Fact: Castro and Cuba have survived (whether or not you agree with their system). The U.S. has failed at every attempt to overthrow that regim. Maybe it is time to bury the hatchet?

    April 10, 2012 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  13. be Wildered

    Agreed BOB! we have a huge amount of soft headed people in this world who need to grow up, its not the cold war there is no enemy outside yourself. People are holding onto the vestiges of the cold war are as daft as thinking they could be saved by a flying watermelon. Stand your ground Guillen! you where right, don't back peddle to these mental midgets.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |

    How can those in the Cuban American community claim they support freedom of speech in Cuba when they don't support freedom of speech in the US?

    April 10, 2012 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
    • tony

      Because Castro was right about them.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
  15. SweetonGeeks

    I'm a hard core left leaning liberal and this seems deeply wrong to me. The man said something casually, in passing. It wasn't approval or support of Castro. CLEARLY. The Florida Marlins have needlessly shamed a man and overstepped their bounds.

    Why are people so obnoxious and ignorant about Freedom of Speech???

    April 10, 2012 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Patriot Dude

      I'm hard right and I 100 percent agree with you. I'll be glad when Castro and his brother are dead, but freedom of speech should mean something in the USA.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Jeebus

      It's liberals – like he media – that make these things into a spectacle.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
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